Mackowiak: There is no right to illegally vote
You have probably heard the latest left-wing social justice war cry about "voting rights." Indeed, millions of dollars are being spent by outside groups to convince minority voters that Republicans are trying to disenfranchise their right to vote.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The state of Texas passed a strong Voter ID law in the 2013 legislative session, based on Indiana's state law, which was upheld by the Supreme Court. The law allows eligible Texas voters to present one of seven forms of identification to legally vote.
If a voter doesn't have an approved ID, they can get an Election Identification Certificate for no cost. Isn't requiring a photo ID an unfair burden to exercise a constitutional right? Of course not. Illegal voting injures those who legally vote.
For a person who says they do not have a driver's license or a passport, I would ask: How do they buy alcohol? How do they pick up prescription drugs? How do they get on a plane? How do they receive government benefits?
But, what about my disabled 84-year-old grandmother? Voters age 65 and older and those with a disability qualify to vote by mail in almost every circumstance where proof of photo ID is not required.
Opponents of the Voter ID law predicted dire consequences if the bill passed. There were none. The photo ID law went into effect in June 2013, and over the five statewide elections since then, the state of Texas has not received any reports of widespread problems and there is no clear effect on voter turnout.
Shouldn't the state be educating Texans about how the Voter ID law works before the presidential election? They are. The Secretary of State's office is spending $4 million this biennium on voter education with a primary focus on educating about photo ID requirements. This is in addition to $2 million spent in 2014, $400,000 spent in 2013 and $400,000 spent in 2015 before the statewide constitutional amendment elections.
But what about Texans in rural areas? The state has expanded the places for voters without photo ID to get an Election Identification Certificate. Not only can voters get one from their local DPS office but the state has sent mobile stations across the state to issue them and trained local officials in counties without a DPS driver license office to be able to issue them.
So if you show up to vote without a photo ID, do you get turned away? No, any voter that shows up to vote who either doesn't own or doesn't have with them an acceptable form of photo ID can still vote provisionally. They have six calendar days to go to the voter registrar's office to "cure" their ballot so it counts like any other voter.
But won't the Supreme Court strike down the state's Voter ID law? A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals partially ruled against the state, but the Supreme Court issued a stay against that ruling — though the stay is currently being challenged. The state of Texas appealed to the 5th Circuit to hear the case "en banc" — meaning in front of all the judges. They have agreed to hear the case the week of May 23. Any ruling by the full 5th Circuit could then be appealed to the Supreme Court.
We have no idea how many people have been illegally voting for decades in Texas, as it is impossible to prove a negative. Catching someone engaging in voter fraud is like finding a needle in a haystack.
How could anyone oppose efforts to make illegal voting more difficult?
Mackowiak is an Austin- and Washington-based Republican consultant and president of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC. He has been an adviser to two U.S. senators and a governor, and has advised federal and state political campaigns across the country.